What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are elevated. Most of the food we eat is converted into glucose which our body uses for energy. The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels by allowing sugar to enter cells where it is converted into energy for the body. In addition, excess sugar is stored by insulin in the muscles and liver. If there is no or insufficient insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells, remains in the blood and leads to elevated blood sugar levels and the development of disease.
There are two basic types of diabetes: type 1 when the pancreas does not produce insulin and type 2 when the effect of the insulin produced is reduced.
Type 2: The most common form of diabetes (90% of people with diabetes is type 2), which is usually detected in old age and at an advanced stage of disease development when complications have occurred in other organs.
Type 1: Disorders of the defense (immune) system in type 1 diabetes produce antibodies that destroy the pancreas’ own insulin-producing cells. The disease develops by destroying 70-90% of the cells. It usually occurs in children and young people.
There is also diabetes in pregnancy, as well as other (rarer) forms of diabetes, such as diabetes after pancreatitis or after taking corticosteroids.
What are the risk factors?
Type 1: Although risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being investigated, some genetic factors, environmental factors, an older woman at the time of childbirth, and exposure to certain viral infections increase the risk of developing the disease.
Type 2: Risk factors for type 2 diabetes are older age (40 years and older), obesity, positive family history (first-degree relatives with diabetes), decreased glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, elevated triglyceride levels and lowered HDL cholesterol levels, and women who had diabetes during pregnancy.
What are the warning signs / symptoms of diabetes?
Symptoms of both types of diabetes are: excessive thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and exhaustion, severe hunger, sudden visual disturbances, lack of concentration, dry skin, wounds that heal slowly, more frequent infections than usual.
In type 2 diabetes, at the beginning of the disease, the symptoms are often not so pronounced that it takes an average of 5-7 years to make a diagnosis. In type 1, the disease occurs suddenly.
Complications of diabetes
The longer diabetes lasts, the greater the chance of developing complications. Type 2 diabetes is often detected at an advanced stage of the disease when complications occur in other organs (changes in blood vessels that can cause heart attack or stroke, kidney failure, nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy) and damage to small blood vessels in the eye (retinopathy). With better regulation of diabetes, the occurrence of complications is significantly reduced.
In addition to drug therapy, dietary measures are mandatory (avoiding foods rich in simple sugars and foods with saturated fatty acids, reducing alcohol consumption), regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, maintaining body weight at desirable values, smoking cessation, regular monitoring for early detection possible complications.
What are the prevention measures?
Currently, type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, while healthy eating habits, physical activity and maintaining a desirable body weight can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the World Diabetes Organization, a regular walk of at least 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of diabetes. disease type 2 by 35-40%.